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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday February 17, 2021

 
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic remained undefeated in Australian Open semi-finals by taking out Aslan Karatsev in straight sets.

Photo Source: AP

When it comes to defending Rod Laver Arena, nobody does it better than Novak Djokovic. The World No.1 remained perfect in Australian Open semi-finals (9-0!) on Thursday night in Melbourne by taking out surprise semifinalist Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his record ninth Australian Open final.

Tennis Express

The injury cloud that surrounded the Serb after his dramatic five-set victory over Taylor Fritz in the third round has now completely faded. And along with it the dream run of 27-year-old Karatsev, the talented Russian qualifier who entered this year's draw with three career ATP wins to his name.

“This is the best I’ve felt in the entire tournament,” Djokovic said on court after the match. “I felt great. I could swing through the ball—no pain. Best match so far, and it came at the right time.”

Djokovic improved his record to 41-0 as the top seed at the Australian Open, and he improved to 81-8 all-time at his favorite event.

There wasn’t much that the Russian qualifier could do to steer him off course on Thursday night, but Karatsev did impress with his ability to make the sets competitive. The World No.114, who is the first player in ATP history to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam on his main draw debut, split the first six games of the match with Djokovic before the Serb reeled of the final three games to take the opening set.

“We need to give him a hand,” Djokovic told the crowd after the match. “Huge congratulations to him on his [Grand Slam] debut, to reach semifinals, I don’t think it ever happened in the history of tennis, so well done to him.”

In the second set Dkokovic raced out to a 5-1 lead, but again Karatsev pushed back. He earned his first break of the match to close to 5-3 and then earned two break points with Djokovic serving for the set at 5-4. But the opportunity was short-lived as Djokovic hammered big serves to save both break points and closed at the set with a trademark emphatic celebration.


With fans returning to Rod Laver Arena after the state of Victoria ended its five-day emergency coronavirus lockdown, Djokovic’s gesture was appreciated.

Karatsev kept it interesting in the third set for a spell, rallying from 2-0 down to level at two-all, but Djokovic would steal away with the final four games to lock up his victory in one hour and 53 minutes.

Djokovic will face either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

 

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